animals · conservation · green · nature · Uncategorized · wildlife

Wildlife in Churchyards

I loathe a tidy churchyard. I hate to see their freshly mown grass and neatly trimmed edges. Give me unkempt, wild and natural graveyards any day.

Churchyards can often be ancient grassland habitats, providing havens for over 100 species of wildflowers, millions of insects, as well as birds and mammals. Bats can still be found in the belfries managed by wildlife-friendly churchyard keepers (sorry, who manages these sites? Does the parish have a gardener? Or does the priest gets his hoe out when he’s not delivering mass?)

The Wildlife Trusts run a Churchyard Conservation Scheme across many of it’s organisations, which aims to support churches to manage their outside space in a wildlife-friendly manner to promote biodiversity and provide vital corridors between habitats in the countryside.

What makes ancient churchyards such great resources for wildlife is that they have escaped the plague of modern pesticides and chemicals that have damaged other parts of the countryside. Lichen love to colonize gravestones, and ferns adore damp church walls, so it’s not just the grassland but also the church buildings themselves that provide homes to plant and insect life.

A secular charity called ‘Caring for God’s Acre‘ launched recently to preserve wildlife in the UK’s 20,000 churchyards, cemeteries and burial grounds. It focuses on the following 6 flagship species:

yew tree.jpg
Yew trees
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Waxcap fungi
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Bumblebees
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Slow worms
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Swifts
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Hedgehogs

Have you visited any wildlife-rich churchyards recently? I’ll be sharing a few in the followings month of those that I’ve visited in Norfolk.

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3 thoughts on “Wildlife in Churchyards

  1. This isn’t something I’ve ever thought about, but I love the idea of it. God and nature (in all it’s naturalness :) ) should go hand in hand, I suppose. Besides, they do make for beautiful landscapes- old buildings and wild gardens.

    1. They do indeed. I think rural churchyards are so beautiful and I always find them really peaceful. I think in cities because they get tourists they feel the need to tidy them up a bit and it’s such a waste of an ancient natural resource.

  2. I’m another fan of quiet wildlife friendly churchyards. Our’s in this village has a number of ancient yews, one dating back to the early 1500’s. Tawny owls live here and they visit our nearby garden occasionally. Sadly though, public pressure wants to see tidy churchyards and it’s hard to keep the mowers at bay! But let’s join the fight to free up these wonderful spaces and allow them to be ‘God’s Acre’ as they should. Thank you for a lovely post.
    -Richard

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